Public relations is a planned and sustained understanding between an organisation and its target audience, however many people or companies have absolutely no idea what we mean by Public Relations. The first step to becoming a successful PR practitioner is to separate myth from reality. The field of PR has its fair share of common myths and misconceptions which needs to be debunked and dealt to provide a broader perspective about the actual reality of what is associated with PR.
1. Advertising and PR are two sides of the same coin
Advertising and PR are not identical they both belong to the field of communication and deal with the aspect of client-servicing, but besides that they are entire different spectrums. Advertising entails creating paid information to be disseminated to various media channels, while PR on the other handle is associated with managing effective communication to create a mutually beneficial relationship between the client and media.
2. Instant Results
There is a common misconception that publicity can be gained instantaneously and most clients expect to get results overnight. This is not true because PR deals with creating awareness and building a relationship with the media, which takes time. At times, results take weeks to be realised as PR requires a strategic approach to enhancing visibility, deals with the process of warming the media to the brand,, disseminating creative pitch notes and so on to seek various opportunities for the client. PR campaigns running for a longer period are effective as steady growth is witnessed with simultaneous increase in media placements with time.
3. Women dominated field
There is a misconceived notion that PR is a field segregated for women. Yes, PR is a field dominated by women but men are also prevalent in this field and some are in the top pier executive positions. Top international and national PR companies are headed by men such as Richard Edelman and Andy Polansky. Also Edward Louis James Bernays, who is the face behind many successful campaigns such as the promotion of female smoking in the 1920s by branding cigarettes as “feminist” and by convincing the public that bacon and eggs were the true all American breakfast, is regarded as the “Father of PR.”
4. PR is exclusive for Celebrities
Public relations is not exclusive for top notch celebrities, it is useful for anyone from a small start-up company to a well-established company. Personalities associated with various field be it from arts to science have also the option to opt for a PR firm to enhance their image in the eyes of the public.
5. PR is a glamorous job
There is a common myth that working in PR is an extremely glamorous job where you attend star-studded glitzy parties and just have a good time. However PR is not different from any other field, lots of hard work, dedication is put into the job with long hours of planning, writing and strategizing to keep the client satisfied and to achieve remarkable results.
6. PR = Media Relations
When you think of PR the first thing many people link it with is wooing the media and just sending off a press release and your job is over. Yes, media relations are a big aspect of PR but it is not the only part of our job. Long hours are given to create a strategic communication plan for the client, researching and coming up with new and creative ways to stay in the limelight.
7. Results are attained if you hire an expensive PR firm
Start –ups, small business enterprises and individuals who are initially breaking through will not have the budget to opt for expensive PR agencies who charge a staggering amount. Other options of up and coming and boutique PR agencies which are run by credible and experienced experts are a great option to fulfil the client’s needs and attain results.
8. Good products do not need PR
Some people believe that PR is needed only to enhance the image of products which are bad or personalities who are dealing with controversies. That is not true as people who have well –trusted products and are known to be having a good reputation should continue to hallmark this viewpoint in the spotlight and make it their USP. Securing PR only when disaster strikes should not be implemented and focus needs to be shifted on having a constant and consistent favourable opinion amongst the target audience.
9. Only requirement to be in PR is to be a “people person”
Although it does help if you are friendly and an extrovert when dealing with clients or the media, but having a friendly personality is just a small aspect of being in PR. A public relations professional has to be a good communicator, have good writing skills, be efficient , creative thinker and should be a good at strategizing to be able to effectively think and plan the client’s goals in the long run.
10. PR is propaganda
At times, there is a negative connotation attached with PR that it is basically a tool of propaganda. Propaganda is a calculated activity aimed at swaying people to do certain things or behave in a certain manner desired by the source. This is not true, as propaganda can be deceitful, it is mostly one sided arguments and is mostly full of miss information. Whereas Public relations works on facts and relies on logic and information shared by a PR professional can be validated by reliable sources. PR professionals avoid propaganda and advocate only the truth to establish a two-way street between the client and media based on honesty.
-By Neha Bajaj
Managing Director, Scroll Mantra Pvt Ltd.